Courting foreign direct investment in Germany

Over 4,000 miles away from Detroit, KUKA Germany’s CEO Dr. Till Reuter shook hands with Gov. Rick Snyder at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade fair. In this same space, KUKA Germany, KUKA Systems North America, as well as KUKA subsidiaries from around the globe, converged for this one week, meeting with business clients – past, present and future.

Germany.jpgTheir booth footprint was massive, impressive and interactive. However, their true presence was much more profound all over the showroom floors, as system integrators demonstrated how their products aligned with KUKA’s automation and robotic technologies.

KUKA Systems North America, headquartered in Macomb County, was one of the many companies that made the trip to Hannover, Germany. I joined as part of the Automation Alley trade mission, along with other Michigan-based companies, two from Macomb County: Omnico AGV and JAAN Technologies. This year was unique because the U.S. was the Partner Country for the Hannover Messe Fair, welcoming President Obama at the Opening Ceremony.

More than 465 U.S. companies exhibited at Hannover Messe, a much larger presence than in previous years. It was easy to get lost on the floors which housed 5,200 exhibitors spread out over 27 different halls. In total, the show brought in over 190,000 visitors from all over the world. Many languages were spoken, and the meetings I had were rich in investment and growth opportunities.

My mission was to meet with companies seeking a U.S. location for expanding their market and production capability. Michigan, especially Macomb County, is prime for these types of foreign direct investments, especially with our rich roots and strong workforce in advanced manufacturing for the automotive, aerospace and defense industries. In total, I walked 56,000 steps over the four days I attended the Hannover Messe Fair – each step bringing these opportunities closer to home.

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Vicky Rad is the deputy director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Dubai Airshow: Commercial and defense spending in aviation to grow domestically and abroad

Seven thousand miles separate Detroit from Dubai, but within this span, there is a vast amount of opportunities between these two regions.  Last week, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosted the Dubai Airshow, promising to hold the most significant airshow in the world.  Even though this year did not topple the 2013 record breaking $200 billion in sales orders, there were many indicators on where the world is heading in aviation.

znV7AjM2pWuc_6b-7lcdaU9LP3q572uYQzgucJER6gwI was fortunate to be able to join Automation Alley on this trade mission to the Middle East and was joined by three other Macomb County companies, Alpha Precision Aerospace, Hydra-Lock and Mobile Data Holdings.  Other regional partners included Detroit Airport Corporation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, MAMA and Wayne County.  My strategy on this trip was very different than other business attraction missions, as I went there specifically to talk about the mature aerospace and defense market in Macomb County and to explore export and supply chain opportunities.

There are many opportunities for aerospace parts, tooling and automation manufacturers to become immersed in this market as Boeing and Airbus struggle to fulfill back orders on new aircraft platforms.  These production orders will dominate the global commercial aviation market and the trend is expected to continue over the next 10 to 15 years.  Couple this with the growing demand for maintenance and repair of existing aircraft, Macomb County aerospace companies have the ability to join the supply chain – on a global scale.

One of my meetings in particular was with a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian airlines where I learned about a major aircraft repair and overhaul facility planned at Jeddah Airport in Saudi Arabia.  They are seeking repair and spare part component manufacturers.  In Abu-Dhabi, the giant investment partner, Mubadala is investing in companies that can bring new manufacturing technologies to the market. And the big news was UAE’s space program strategy which has an aggressive mission to send unmanned probes to Mars by 2021.

The big theme that emerged from the Dubai Airshow is commercial and defense spending in aviation is here now and will continue to grow both domestically and abroad.  Companies looking to expand into this market will need to strategically grow their international presence and their global footprint in the Middle East and Asian markets.  Trade missions such as this provide us a window to meet and build relationships with decision makers who can bring these opportunities front and center for our businesses.

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Vicky Rad is the deputy director for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.